Another round of the “Skytrain” workshop, a self-developed training concept by LEAN e.V., took place on Saturday 27 of June 2015. Facing the contemporary global interlacing growth and increasing international demand for trainings, the workshop was performed in English for the first time. Our three moderators; Lukas Förschner, Julius Breitling and Florian Wetschorek coached a total of 15 participants with fruitful outcomes.
Skytrain is a German multinational corporation founded in Karlsruhe that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes. Skytrain’s leading product are the so-called “Skyboats”, which are state-of-the-art hydroplanes designed and engineered by KIT students using Lego components. Because of lower production costs and booming demand, an historical aircraft assembly factory in Swabia was acquired. Unfortunately, not even one Skyboat was delivered after the first period and Skytrain was about to lose an important customer. To solve the problem, Skytrain hired a group of LEAN e.V. consultants, who studied the factory and methodically restructured and redesigned the shop floor in a one-day simulation.
Keep reading only if your interest on the simulation details has been awoken. Status-quo of the assembly factory: The production objective was set by the customer to 20 flawless planes every four minutes. The historical assembling shop had six production stations. Every station was operated by one employee and controlled by one observer, whose assignment was to record every key performance indicators along each process. At the beginning, the batch size was set to three units. All intermediate component batches, as well as the finished Skyboats, were transported from one station to the next by one logistician.
After each production round, the underlying production issues were analyzed and valuated in the group, whereas only one production factor, ergo the highest rated, was readjusted for the next round. Key performance indicators, such as utilization of a workstation, waiting time, stock size, workload leveling and error incidence, were flexibly chosen during the onward improvement process because they had a different significance weight on the overall production at each stage. Now and again, the moderators guided the discussion suggesting different methods, such as value-based approaches and the problem solving cycle, as a prime example. Further on, the some theoretical information about the nature of waste and principles about customer focus, batch production, flow production, line balancing and value creation were presented to refresh the participant’s memories.
Following nine simulation rounds, a completely refurbished assembly shop began to sparkle with an objective precision landing on the production’s objectives. The facility was producing 20 flawless planes every four minutes! To achieve this, the batch size was reduced to one. A Kanban System was implemented so that each station only produced on-demand, this reduced inventories. One production station was closed because of expensive idle time. The never-ending transport workload between the stations was firstly approached hiring one logistician more, but was finally solved launching a flow production and closing the gaps between the stations with a new shop floor array. The workload of the remaining five stations was then leveled by redistribution of resources, tasks and reconception or elimination of unnecessary production steps.